An Aswang Love Story
Dude looks like a lady, the Englishman Tom Doesil thought as he glanced at the person crossing Malate Circle at 3 o’clock that night.
Tom grinned despite himself as he slowed down his rented Honda Civic around the rotunda. You’d think that after being in the country for almost six months and doing NGO work for the World Bank, he’d have an easier time judging Filipino faces.
He studied the person in the distance. Truth be told, the figure was too masculine to be a woman – the shoulders too broad, the Adam’s apple too prominent in the throat, and the features too strong despite the Chinese cast to the face.
It didn’t help that the sun dress he/she wore hung too loose on a thin frame. But there was something to be said about the long black hair that hung straight down to the waist, or the graceful way he/she took the pedestrian crossing.
Could be, couldn’t be, could be, couldn’t… Tom shook his head, unable to decide, once and for all, whether the figure was a woman or a man.
Suddenly, he saw a jeepney dart from a darkened side street in a screech of wheels and clip the androgynous figure crossing the road. All doubts in Tom’s mind about gender were resolved by the resulting high-pitched squawk.
“Ayyy! My leg, my shapely leg! Ayyy!” he cried, writhing on the road.
Tom pulled the handbrake and jumped out of the car. “Are you all right?” he said as he ran towards the figure.
He looked up. “That damned son of a cockbag! I’m going to turn that bastard into a chicken so I can cook him into pinikpikan! Oh… Pierce Brosnan is alive and well in the Philippines!”
Tom couldn’t respond for a moment, struck by the small face looking up with his wide brown eyes. “Er,” he said, catching his breath. “I don’t know about that. Do you need to go to the hospital?”
The person uttered an earthy chuckle and said, “I’ll go with you anywhere, bebe. But no, I’ll be fine.”
“Here, let me help you,” Tom said as he tried to stand up. He demurely let himself be held by the hand, which was soft to the touch.
“You’re such a gentleman,” he said abashed. “And it’s nice of you to stop and help. Nobody here in the city would have done the same.”
Tom grinned. “Yes, well, call me old-fashioned. I don’t believe that chivalry or even compassion should be dead just because it’s the age of Facebook and Twitter.”
He nodded and replied, “I’m a provincial myself so …”
“Hey fag!” a voice interrupted them. “You’re so ugly, why don’t you just die?”
Both of looked down the street to see flashing red hazard lights slowly backing up to them. Tom recognized the vehicle as it stopped as the erring jeepney.
As three men clambered down from the vehicle, Tom stepped forward and warned, “Ease off, boys. We don’t want any trouble. If you leave now, we won’t report this to the police.”
A growl erupted from one of the men. “Go home, Joe. Mind your own business.”
“I’m not a damned Yank,” Tom barked. Suddenly he saw a glint of a blade in one of the tough’s hands and a tire iron in another. Alarmed, he muttered, “Now we’re really in it.”
The figure behind Tom stepped forward. “Hoy! So you think you own the road here?!”
“No,” another man crooned, his white teeth smiling at them. “But when we see faggots like you on the road, we usually run them over.”
“You seriously don’t want to mess with me,” he said with answering smile. Tom looked at him in surprise.
Just then, the man who answered released a loud burp, and then another one. His two friends looked at him in puzzlement as the man started coughing and pounding on his chest with a fist. Then he exhaled a chicken feather.
“See? I told you,” the Englishman’s companion laughed as several more feathers flew out of the man’s mouth.
He suddenly jumped forward, his limbs stretching inhumanly long. The man with a knife slashed at him but he ducked and backhanded the tough off his feet.
The other tough with a tire iron tried to get behind him but Tom tackled him with all his 6’6’ lanky frame could manage. “I’ll take that,” he said as he relieved the man of the tire iron.
His opponent shouldered him off and started running. He shouted, “Cock-lover!’
It was dark and the man was already far down the street. Tom threw the tire iron without hesitation and it tangled the tough’s feet, tripping him.
“Nice throw,” the now-gravelly voice said. Tom looked hesitantly at him. “Thanks… I think.”
Tom looked at the other men. The remaining tough still standing was bent over, still coughing and burping chicken feathers while the third was out on his back.
A slim arm slipped around his and said, “So, do you want to buy a lady a drink?”
He turned to see deep brown eyes looking back at him with interest.
(First published in allmusicjunkies here.)